Watercress is a heaven-sent leafy vegetable that grows naturally in spring water. Over the last few decades, it has been used primarily as a garnish, but it’s now gaining popularity as a superfood. Not only is it a good addition to dishes, it also offers many nutrients that are beneficial to the overall health. Watercress can support the thyroid, prevent cancer, boost the immune system and provide a wide range of nutrition. All of these health benefits start with just a single serving.
What is Watercress?
Watercress is a cruciferous plant that has been around for centuries. Part of the Brassicaceae family, it offers a high level of vitamins and minerals in its phytochemical structure. The leaves and stems of the plant are edible, with a peppery taste that gives dishes a spicy little kick. In fact, watercress comes from the same family as mustard. It will surely win the hearts of any vegetable lovers out there.
Nutritional Facts of Watercress
Watercress, together with beetroot and some other leafy vegetables, has rich levels of dietary nitrate. If you eat enough of it, dietary nitrate helps lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhance athletic performance. Below is a more detailed list of the nutritional breakdown of the plant, as found in 2 cups:
- Carbohydrates: 0.9 grams
- Fiber: 0.3 grams
- Sugar: 0.1 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Protein: 1.6 grams
- Calories: 7
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 4.1 milligrams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 7.8 milligrams
- Sodium: 13.9 milligrams
- Vitamin A: 44 percent of RDI
- Vitamins C: 48 percent of RDI
- Vitamin K: 212 percent of RDI
- Calcium: 8 percent of RDI
- Manganese: 8 percent of RDI
- Potassium: 6 percent of RDI
- Vitamin E: 4 percent of RDI
- Thiamin: 4 percent of RDI
- Riboflavin: 4 percent of RDI
- Vitamin B6: 4 percent of RDI
- Magnesium: 4 percent of RDI
- Phosphorus: 4 percent of RDI
Health Benefits of Watercress
Here are some of the best health benefits of watercress:
Helps prevent stroke. Studies show that watercress’s folate content helps avert stroke.
Antidepressant. The folate in watercress also helps produce neurochemicals like the serotonin. Furthermore, folate is beneficial in treating depression.
Rich in folate. Since watercress has ample amount of folate, it helps prevent birth defects in infants.
Rich in calcium. Calcium is very important for the health, most importantly in the prevention of various diseases.
Helps improve bone health. The calcium in watercress also strengthens the bones and repairs them by producing osteoblasts.
Helps improve cardiovascular health. Watercress has the power to lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of related diseases like atherosclerosis.
Helps improve thyroid function. Watercress reduces the production of thyroid hormones, but it’s more beneficial when eaten raw.
Helps prevent colorectal cancer. This is one of the most amazing health benefits of watercress. Many studies show that its folate content is beneficial for the daily diet and averts the risk of colorectal cancer.
Helps prevent cancer (Breast cancer). The cancer-preventive phytonutrients in watercress help increase the molecules in the body’s circulatory system, which may help prevent and stop the recurrence of breast cancer.
Possible Risks of Consuming Watercress
Before indulging in watercress, you should consult with your doctor. The vegetable has a high nitrate content, so if you are already at risk of cardiovascular disease, this may hurt you. Nitrate interacts with various medications. Remember, it’s important to have a well-rounded diet, or the effects of the watercress will be lost on their surroundings.